[AMA] I've Been a Woolworths Cashier for Too Long. Ask Me Anything

I've been working as a cashier (customer service team member) for Woolworths for the past year and a half. I am a student so have been working on a casual basis. Ask me anything, but please nothing too personal.

Edit: Thanks for all the questions y'all, they were all fun to answer. From now on, I'll probably check this once or twice a day, so keep on posting anything you may want to ask me, I'll respond when I can.

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    • +5 votes

      I stopped a customer asking to check her handbag (one of the other team members had seen her put a bag of batteries in it), she said I had no right to check her handbag and tried to rush out of the store with her trolley full of stuff she'd already paid for. I had to physically stand in front of the trolley while my manager sorted the situation out.

      But we've recently gotten security guards at our store so it's a bit better now, less theft than before.

      • +3 votes

        She's right - you don't have a legal right to search it (regardless of signs saying otherwise or trying to make it a condition of entry). At best your colleague could try and perform a citizens arrest on the basis they saw her put those batteries in the bag and try to detain her until police arrived.

        Not that I am condoning theft, but I've had some really annoying experiences with people asking me to unzip multiple compartments of a laptop bag to check what was in there and I'd rather tell them to bugger off.

        • +4 votes

          Next to the entrance to the store, it states that a condition of entry is that you agree to allow your bags to be searched upon exit. Surely that allows us to search her bag?

          • +4 votes

            @Omk4r123: Common misconception - all it means is that you can ask her to leave as she is voiding your conditions of entry - don't try and use it to prevent someone from leaving as it actually leaves you performing the illegal action!

            • +2 votes

              @sakurashu: Yeah, and she was more than happy to leave. I should probably verify this with my manager, not that I don't believe you, just to make sure.

              •  

                @Omk4r123: Yeah don't take my word for it - have a read online and even jump to the relevant law if you're interested!

              • +2 votes

                @Omk4r123: Yeah Sakurashu is correct. Although if the thief voids their right of entry by refusing, the store has every right to place a ban on that customer. Any subsequent entry could be treated as trespassing (but that's a slippery slope).

                Source: Loss Prevention =)

                •  

                  @wizzlesticks: Thanks for the confirmation, but I probably won't need to do it again though as we have dedicated security guards now.

                  •  

                    @Omk4r123: What can the dedicated security guards do if someone is seen to have taken something without paying for it?

                    •  

                      @howsthat: They can assist that person (the one that saw it) in detaining the alleged perpetrator. However, they themselves did not make the arrest, they assisted in good faith.

                      This means the person witnessing the offence is responsible and accountable for the arrest. Though, there may be some ramifications for the security guard if it is a false arrest.

              • +1 vote

                @Omk4r123: Be very careful detaining someone. The sign means nothing. If you have not seen the customer take something, do not detain them.

          •  

            @Omk4r123: Nope. Seems hard to comprehend that a member of staff hasn't been properly briefed on this.

  •  

    Hi OP, I work at iga the past 2 years also casual with university. Can I ask:
    1: are you burnt out by the job? I’ve found myself hating it and wanting to change
    2: is there a lot of pressure on you? Breaks cut short, no toilet breaks, not being able to leave the store on your break?

    Thank you just curious

    • +1 vote
      1. I am a bit burnt out by the job, but not to the point of hating it, I just have to push myself to go.

      2. Fortunately, the managers at our store are super relaxed and do not pressure the staff. They do tell you when you can go on break, yes, but they give us the allocated time and don't care if we take a few minutes more. We are allowed to go on toilet breaks, but I've never really needed to go while on register. It's a bit hard to leave the store during tea breaks as they're only 15 minutes long and we might not come back in time, but there's no one explicitly stopping us from going out. In some of the longer breaks (e.g. 1 hour), I've even gone home and had lunch a few times.

      •  

        Thanks mate just was curious how it compares to my grocery store I work at. We actually don’t even get allocated breaks which is crazy, like we will get a short 15 and get called 5 min within that break to go back on registers or even during our 30 min break.

      •  

        One more question if ok, I was given trouble for wearing gloves due to my eczema I was developing even though my doctor told me too. Do you know if anyone else wears gloves to prevent that from happening at your Woolworth?

        •  

          Don't think any of the cashiers in our store wear gloves, it's usually only the team members that fill the milk fridge and the freezers that wear gloves to protect themselves from the cold.

          But if your doctor told you so, I reckon have to allow you to wear gloves. Maybe if you haven't already, ask the doctor for a letter specifically explaining the need for gloves, and if your department manager still doesn't allow it, speak to the store manager or the IGA HR department if they have one.

  •  

    Have your started a savings account for the dollars you are earning. That can be good motivation for saving towards something. Help you manage your own savings and expenses.

    • +3 votes

      Yes, I have started a savings account. Saving up for a car :)

  • +2 votes

    Can cashier sit down while at work (like Aldi)?
    What if you can't stand too long due to medical condition?

    •  

      No, we are required to stand. I don't know what happens if you can't stand for too long as fortunately I have not had to research this. I'm assuming they would be giving you a bar stool or something like that though.

  •  

    I have pointed out several times to check out staff at Woorlworths that people are stealing, as in I witnessed it and if you grab them now it will be in their possession and on camera.

    This is from blatant taking something and walking out to the more subtle shoving it under their jackets etc. I am in Perth CBD and they are easy to spot due to their demeanor.

    Upon informing the front staff they always tell me that they will not approach the shoplifters.

    Now I know some of these people can turn aggressive and I have seen it turn physical but you CANNOT let these people steal with impunity.

    Why don't Woolies staff stop shoplifters?

    • +3 votes

      Whenever we get a tip off from another customer or team member that a certain customer may be attempting to steal something, we watch out for that customer to come to the registers and ask them to open their bags. But in the end, not all customers comply with this and we can obviously do little to stop them from leaving the store. But the managers are paying attention, as we recently got security guards at our store.

      I've noticed that after these security guards were introduced, thefts have gone down by a lot as thieves are obviously intimidated by them and think twice before stealing something. They can also more effectively stop people from leaving the store as they're trained to do that properly.

    • +1 vote

      I am not the OP, but I read a few articles where Woolworths employees were terminated for going after a shoplifter. The lesson for Woolworths staff is to not do it.

      • +3 votes

        The major supers and their liquor stores team are trained to over service suspected thieves but that's it. Once the products are stolen, it gets reported to the police and that's it.

        Now in my own store I'll lock up and chase them til one of us runs out of puff. The grab a slab and run from an independent does not work ;)

        • +1 vote

          "The grab a slab and run from an independent does not work ;)"
          hahaha, independent stores have that advantage for sure, :)

          • +2 votes

            @mwalks: Not really an advantage, but generally speaking the smart thieves know that when you're stealing from a corporate they can't touch you. When stealing from an indy you're literally stealing their cash in front of their face. I took a couple of nice punches a few months ago. Asked the other 3 customers in the store if they'd seen him hit me first, then he just ran.

            (I'd only asked for his ID)

        •  

          Now in my own store I'll lock up and chase them til one of us runs out of puff. The grab a slab and run from an independent does not work ;)

          So what's your response if he pulls out a weapon like a knife or a gun, when say he's cornered and no where to go or puffed out and can't run anymore and decides to take a one last stand before he goes?

          • +5 votes

            @Zachary: Find me a guy, doing a runner with a gun… Last time I checked the Mafia weren't 15-25 and stealing slabs from a small Indy. As for a knife, maybe the cops would actually attend?

            Answer me this, a guy comes into your house, and starts walking out with your TV while your watching it, what would you do? Help him?

            If I get stabbed for defending my own belongings and can't work/killed/whatever my family is set up for life. If I don't and let it happen my family can't afford to eat because every man and his dog is gonna take advantage of that. The last time the police attended a theft from my store was when a couple of punches were thrown. They don't even give a shit about footage of thieves who got away.

            If you'd happily let someone steal YOUR money in front of your face then goodo. I wasn't raised that way.

            A staff member stole potentially 10s of thousands over the last 4 years(fortunately I caught it after 3 weeks from taking over). Video evidence of it from 6 weeks, judge through it out for lack of evidence. (Aparently you can't hide a camera next to your own safe)

            •  

              @Soluble: A staff member stole potentially 10s of thousands over the last 4 years

              That's the person to fear the most the inside jobs .

            •  

              @Soluble:

              Find me a guy, doing a runner with a gun… Last time I checked the Mafia weren't 15-25 and stealing slabs from a small Indy.

              Well it was a what if scenario, you know if you're going that far as to chase them down, you gotta have contingencies incase it backfires….unless you don't care or can just improvise on the spot. Considering guns are apparently real in Australia(I thought they only existed in America where civilians can carry guns but according to news on TV, that is incorrect and civilians can apparently get guns here somehow too(probably illegally too I'm guessing)….), I wouldn't cross out people doing a runners with guns and bullets…. They don't have to be in the mafia, if such an organization exists here, but maybe gangs? Ever played any of the Grand Theft Auto games? Yeah….those types of gangs…

              As for a knife, maybe the cops would actually attend?

              You'll either be stabbed to death or left critically injured and the thief gone with your stolen item(s) by the time you call the cops on him…. Unless the thief is actually pretty bad at using the knife or and you overpower him somehow…

              If you'd happily let someone steal YOUR money in front of your face then goodo. I wasn't raised that way.

              Well I suppose when you put it that way, you do have a point, I would also kinda be a bit peed if I saw someone stole my money in front of my face…………………..

              HMmmmm….maybe I should start concealing weapons in my pockets in case I get mugged or shagged when I'm outside…

              EDIT:

              A staff member stole potentially 10s of thousands over the last 4 years(fortunately I caught it after 3 weeks from taking over). Video evidence of it from 6 weeks, judge through it out for lack of evidence. (Aparently you can't hide a camera next to your own safe)

              Also what idiot would steal from a store they were working in where there are cameras clearly visible, fake or real (unless they were told the cameras were supposed to be fake but are actually real to test their employees…?)?!?

              •  

                @Zachary: I chased a thief down once. He gave up after a few blocks and I walked him back the way we came till an undercover police officer noticed something going on and came over.

      •  

        Generally, my manager tells us that we should not leave the store for any reason to run after a customer, but there have been times where I have gone a bit out of the store to give a customer some items they'd forgotten at the register.

    •  

      Imagine how a false stop would unfold in court:

      Defence lawyer: So you stopped the accused based on the whim of another customer?
      Employee: Well, yes, they swore they'd seen them steal something.
      Defence lawyer: Case rested. My client is willing to accept $750,000 for false imprisonment and punitive damages.

    •  

      If you’ve seen the theft you can arrest them yourself. The staff member you reported it to did not witness it and cannot detain someone based on ‘suspicion’

      Note that security guards have no more power than we all do, they are (hopefully) better trained to use the law correctly.

      Security guards also cannot demand to check your bags and police can only detain you and search your person (including bags) if they have reasonable suspicion of an offence being committed.

    •  

      You need to read some of the earlier posts, empower yourself and start making some citizen's arrests.

  •  

    Do cashiers get training on the types of fruits being sold? Quite a few seem to have no idea on the exotic fruits.

    • +1 vote

      Yes, we get basic training on most of the common fruits and vegetables (apples, oranges, stone-fruits etc.), but not on the more exotic types. I guess the best thing for us to do if we can't identify a fruit is ask the customer what fruit (or vegetable) it is, because they know best. Or then we can call the produce department over the PA and ask them because they get a lot more training on fruits and vegetables.

    •  

      So true! I've had cashiers key in a pomegranate as pink lady apple and even dragon fruit 😮

  •  

    G'day!

    Am planning on applying to a woolies around near where I'm relocating to this month.

    I've made my WOW account and whatnot, but what was your method of getting your position?

    Any non-generic/Woolies specific tips about the interview process?

    • +3 votes

      So Year 10 students in Victoria (don't know about other states) have to do at least 1 week of 'work experience' ideally in an industry they want to work in in the future. Now, I don't want to work in retail for the rest of my life, but I started to search for placements a bit too late and couldn't find anything in the industries I wanted to work for.

      So I approached my local Woolworths and asked them if they accepted work experience students, and did my experience there. They paid me $50 for the one week of 9-5 work, and I enjoyed it so much that I did a 2nd week with them (this was in the mid-term holidays).

      Towards the end of those 2 weeks, I asked the store manager if they had any vacant positions and she offered me a job on the spot. No training, no interviews, nothing like that.

      Probably different to what you were expecting to hear, but yeah, I don't have any tips about the interview process because I never went through it.

      • -1 vote

        what industry did you want

        •  

          Something to do with engineering or IT.

  • +1 vote

    I have a question about one thing that ALWAYS irritate me when I use self served counter: Why sometime I can take out my items and put in trolley and most of the time I can't even though i have already scanned it??

    It's always driving me nuts lol and always have to call the staff couple of times, there was one time I had to call for 3 times and the staff looked quite pissed…(not my mistake lady! or maybe it is?)

    • +1 vote

      You have to wait for the red lights to turn green. It can take a few seconds, so they know it's been weighed properly in the weighing area.

    • +1 vote

      The scales are really sensitive to stop customers from accidentally scanning the same thing twice and also to prevent theft from the stores of people deliberately not scanning items.

      When you're taking the items out of the bagging area, you have to wait until the light above the scanner turns green and then take them out. Then, a prompt will appear on the screen asking if you've removed bags from the bagging area, you should select 'yes'. But other than that, every system's gonna have it's ups and downs, we just have to deal with it.

    •  

      You gotta wait for the green lights near the barcode scanner, then you ca do whatever you want.

    •  

      As others said it's all about the green/red light.
      You can only remove bags from the weighing bag-holder section after you've added the scanned item and the light goes green.

  •  

    What is the deal when the announcer says the shop is shutting but people are still buying? You obviously get paid for this, is it to the minute, do you need to record your own times or is it automated?

    • +1 vote

      We need to sign off no more than 5 minutes before or after our shift is supposed to end (e.g. my shift is supposed to end at 5pm. I can sign off from 4:55 to 5:05. It is not automated, we need to manually sign on/off at the start and end of our shift.

      About the announcer, they generally announce that the store is closing 10-15 minutes before the scheduled closing time to give people adequate time to make their way to the checkouts and leave. After all, the staff want to get home as soon as possible too.

      •  

        Thanks for your response. So if you are still their at 5.20 pm, you get paid for this? You just have to enter it manually?

        •  

          Yes, we are paid for this but have to get it approved by our manager.

          •  

            @Omk4r123: Are the finger scanners/roster adjustment sheets still a thing?

            •  

              @Morphio25: Yep, still there.

              • +1 vote

                @Omk4r123: Do you get paid for the time it takes you to sign in to start your shift 😂

  •  

    What are the progression opportunities for you like, in the store and other stores/HQ?

    Have you given any thought to pursuing it? I mean, a lot of Woolworths CEOs have worked their way up from where you are. You don't have to aspire to being CEO, but perhaps some other strategic role?

    •  

      I'm training to become a supervisor right now, which is higher than what I am right now. I don't know for sure, but I'm thinking that the chain of command goes like this

      1. Team Member (Lowest)
      2. Supervisor
      3. Department Manager
      4. Assistant Store Manager
      5. Store Manager
      6. Area Manager
      7. State Manager? Idk (Highest)

      Edit: I'm aiming not to work at Woolworths for longer than I have to; when I graduate from uni, I'll probably look to do something that pays better and more importantly, something that I enjoy more. So the highest I'll get is probably supervisor or maybe department manager if I'm lucky.

      • +2 votes

        I'll probably look to do something that pays better and more importantly, something that I enjoy more

        Could be a chicken and egg situation. The higher you move up, the more enjoyable it might be and the more you'll get paid. While you have to be there, why not give it your best shot and see if it's the case or not, and learn* as much as you can for your future career?
        * learn as in learn different things not the same thing for 2 years, etc.

        •  

          Yeah, who knows! I'll see how I feel being a supervisor, ordering all the high school kids around :p. But I'm more technically oriented and would really love to do something in engineering.

          • +1 vote

            @Omk4r123: Sorry for sounding like your Dad :)

            Just trying to share my life experience and make sure you don't miss out on some of the things that I might have. I was top 10 in Maths, Engineering Science and other Science courses in the HSC. Did economics and finance and worked in financial services and became senior manager with P&L responsibility and have really enjoyed it, even though I'm also somewhat technically orientated. None of this occurred to me when I was in uni!

            • +1 vote

              @ihbh: Hi Dad :P

              That's actually a really interesting insight. What sort of stuff do you do as a part of your job? And do you regret not pursuing engineering?

              • +1 vote

                @Omk4r123: I'm transitioning to being a company director so instead of running a business like before, it's overseeing the running of a business - being hands off but driving the strategy and how the business competes, and determining what to be across to know what's going on.

                regret not pursuing engineering?

                I think I would have eventually moved into senior management which is what I enjoy and similar to my career (but in a different industry). Re the technical engineering, it would have been interesting on a project by project basis but I satisfy my curiosity with lectures and documentaries on engineering (and many other subjects).

          •  

            @Omk4r123: Your current job will help you heaps when trying to get your first placement job. I'm currently halfway through my Engineering course doing a placement while also working at a supermarket like you, and when interviewing, any sort of customer service role was very helpful

      •  

        I applied for a corporate strategy role at woolies a year or so ago, came down to me and one other (I ended up being the other). That role was paying 30% more than I’m getting in my current role, and probably 10% more than most other companies. Not sure what you’re studying, but don’t write off woolies due to pay.

        As a frame of reference, I work for a big 4 bank - stated in a call centre answering phones and emails all day (straight out of uni). I now have a corporate strategy gig, and I’m paid reasonably well (but as mentioned above others pay better). Doesn’t hurt to work your way up!

  •  

    At Woolworths Victoria Harbour there are like six self-checkouts that are never open? They've been like that for months. Are these just broken or do they shut them down for security/is there a maximum number of self-checkouts a single staff member can administer?

    • +1 vote

      Don't know if there's a maximum that one staff member can manage, my store only has 6 of them.

  •  

    how do you deal with the (profanity) customers?

    •  

      Calmly explain the situation to them and if they don't calm down, call the manager over.

  •  

    Is the 2 tin baby formula limit strictly enforced?

    •  

      Haven't had anyone try to take more than 2 tins, so don't know for sure. But I'd stop them, If they object, call over my manager.

      •  

        I had this the other day, bought 2 tins in my name, and 2 in my wife’s using the online store pickup (I was heading away for a month and needed 4 tins). The lady checked with her manager who said “he’s clearly not sending them to China, he’s fine”.

        So it seems it is enforced, but the manager has discretion haha.

        • +1 vote

          Sounds like a loophole. You should do this more often and send them to China.

  •  

    If you buy something with an e-gift card abd return it, do you somehow get another e-gift or physical or cash? Been curious for a while haha

    •  

      You can get your refund issued to whatever payment method you want.

  • +1 vote

    How often do you get customers who want to pay with an e-gift card?